Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: March 4, 2019 Comments: 0
The difference between folate and folic acid can be compared to man-made hair vs wigs. Hair, a naturally occurring part of our anatomy, is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the skin. Wigs are made of synthetic hair, which is hair made of plastic fibers, manufactured to look and feel like natural hair. Similarly, folate is what we refer to as the naturally occurring vitamin B9, and folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. Vitamin B9 is found in many forms, but it is called folate when it is found in foods. Folic acid is used in fortified foods and vitamin supplements. Because folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, when the body comes across folic acid, it first must convert it to folate before absorbing it. Ironically, the body absorbs more folic acid from fortified foods and supplements as compared to folate that is naturally found in foods. Folate cannot be stored in the body, so be kind to yourself and make sure you ingest a moderate intake each day.
Why is folate so important anyway? Your body needs folate to make DNA and other genetic material, and is vital for cell division. It is also advantageous for women to take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube and birth defects.
Most people tend to get enough folate from their daily diet because it is found in foods we typically eat. It is easy to obtain the recommended amount of folate by eating diverse foods, and of course, be mindful to “eat the rainbow”! Here are some foods that naturally contain folate:
- Beef liver
- Vegetables, specifically asparagus, brussels sprouts, spinach, cauliflower, beets
- Fruits and fruit juices, specifically oranges and orange juice
- Nuts, beans and peas, specifically peanuts, black-eyed peas and kidney beans
Here are some foods fortified with folic acid:
- Enriched bread, flour, cornmeal, pasta, rice
- Breakfast cereals
If you’re finding it difficult to get enough folate from your diet, or you’re considering pregnancy, nutritional supplements are recommended. Stay tuned to find out more about folic acid vs. methylfolate nutritional supplements.
(1) Dietitians of Canada. (2014). Food Sources of Folate. Retrieved from https://www.dietitians.ca/getattachment/8612a7a9-642d-42dd-8e38-33f908c26c6a/Factsheet-Food-Sources-of-Folate.pdf.aspx
(2) Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Folic acid and folate in foods. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/folic_acid_and_folate_in_foods
(3) Office of Dietary Supplements – Folate. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/folate-consumer/
(4) Top 20 Foods High in Folic Acid. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.newkidscenter.com/foods-high-in-folic-acid.html